On Business: Cartozia Tales

By | Monday, August 03, 2015 Leave a Comment
Cartozia Tales started back in 2013 as an interesting sort of experiment. It's an anthology series planned for ten issues. All the stories take place in the fictional world of Cartozia (hence the name) but, while the short stories all continue from one issue to the next, the creators who work on them change. It's a little like that game where someone writes part of a story, and then passes it on to the next person to continue writing. So stories can take some unusual turns, depending on who's working on any given portions. This is enhanced by some of the ideas behind Cartozia in the first place; it's something in the same vein as Wonderland or Oz.

And while it's proven to be a very interesting read, that's not what I'm going to focus on today. No, the other aspect of the book that I find interesting is its distribution.

The team put together the first issue, published it, and put it for sale on their site. Then they did issue #2 and, while they were working on #3, launched a Kickstarter to try to pre-fund the rest of the series. (I understand the first two issues were personally funded by editor Isaac Cates. Possibly part of the third.) But then, after the Kickstarter was successful (actually, running in tandem with the KS) they offered subscriptions for the full ten-issue run.

I picked up my first Cartozia book, I believe, from Sarah Becan (one of the regular contributors) a little over a year ago at a show. Probably CAKE. I expect all the other creators sell various issues at any shows they table at as well. That's pretty typical for indie books that people contribute to. Interestingly, though, the ones with online stores don't seem to be selling them that way.

Which means that, if you don't meet one of the folks in person, you have to go to the Cartozia site to purchase either individual issues or a subscription. (Available both as printed comics and as PDFs.) But to further make things interesting, you can order a "partial subscription." That is, if you've picked up several of the indivdiual issues already, you can order a subscription beginning at any issue number. They'll send you all the issues from the last one you have through what's been produced to date, and then send the subsequent issues out as they're published. I don't know that I've ever seen a distribution plan quite like this before.

I gather the Kickstarter funds are nearing exhaustion, and the project seems to have taken longer than anyone anticipated in general. But all the creators seem committed to the project, and certainly want to continue it through to its conclusion. It's the increased attention they've been doing in marketing this summer that reminded me of the book I got from Becan earlier. When the series is complete, I'd be tempted to talk with Cates to see how things went with the project overall and where they had the biggest challenges.

In the meantime, if you're interested in checking them out, they're offering a digital version of the first issue available for free, and issues #2-3 at a steep discount through the end of this week. (More details here.)
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